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Local tours to spotlight new forage crops, ways to cut costs

October 05, 2004

Want to cut cattle feeding cost up to 75 percent?

Want to hear about new forage crop varieties?

Want to see how to dependably keep clover in a pasture and cut nitrogen fertilizer costs way down?

Want to see how ultrasound testing is used to evaluate the quality of the meat on live animals to market through value added markets and gain up to 30 percent over traditional market rates?

On Thursday, Oct. 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Maryland Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative Coalition, in conjunction with Maryland Natural Resources Conservation Service, will be joining up with a pasture walk at the University of Maryland Western Maryland Research and Education Center at 18330 Keedysville Road, Keedysville.

For directions, call 301-432-2767. People are asked to bring their own sack lunches.

To attend, register by Oct. 15 by e-mail at Lydia.Donovan@md.usda.gov or call 1-443-482-2907.

Beginning at 10 a.m., the tour will focus on forage establishment issues and will look at current forage variety work at the facility.

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The afternoon part of the tour will begin at 1 p.m. at the Bill Poffenberger Farm at 6000 Mondel Road near Sharpsburg. Call 1-443-482-2922 for details and directions.

Bill Poffenberger and his family have been running the family farm for many years, but in the last few years, they have been able to decrease the amount of hay they need to feed even in a bad year by stockpiling tall fescue and overseeding with clovers, according to a news release.

The tour will include a look at water systems for intensive grazing and low-cost feeding facilities for winter use, in conjunction with stockpiling tall fescue.

"Throughout the tour, you will see how nutrient management and intensive grazing can be used to develop vigorous productive pastures that can be hay when the grass gets ahead of the cows," the news release said. "From this tour, you will be able to see how to manage Kentucky 31 tall fescue dependably for stockpiling in the winter and significantly cut your feeding an haying costs."

The final portion of the tour will be a demonstration of ultrasound testing to determine live animal meat quality.

This is a method used by the New England Livestock Association to determine quality animals that have been grassfed or natural-raised to produce at a premium price by the association in Maryland, which can be as much as 30 percent above traditional market rates.

There'll be a short discussion about Maryland landowners' interest in working cooperatively to sell to these markets.

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